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What is Centering Prayer?

KARUNA Centering Meditation Outreach Project

Be compassionate just as your Heavenly Father is compassionate. Luke 6:36)

OUR MISSION: Our ministry is to teach a simple  20 minute period of meditation and breathing, based on centering prayer meditation*,  to people in parishes, schools, hospitals, recovery programmes, and prisons.

The Karuna Centering Prayer Meditation Project is an ecumenical ministry of the Centering Prayer Meditation Network (Victoria).

*Centering Prayer Meditation is a non-denominational practice of silent focus and inner connection. It has been in practice since the 1st or 2nd Century AD by the Desert monks.  It was brought to light in the English speaking world in 1375 by an anonymous monk in a book called "The Cloud of Unknowing" (also referred to as ‘the Prayer of the Heart’). It is also one of the forms of meditation described by St John of the Cross as ‘the practice of loving attentiveness’ in his book "The Dark Night of the Soul".   This prayer has been promoted in our time by three Trappists monks from the United States:  Frs. William Meninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating.   It is some-times known as ‘Oneness Meditation’, as promoted by Jewish and Christian groups.

‘KARUNA’ is a Sanskrit word (meaning ‘Loving Compassion) and is common to people of many faiths, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

For further Information, contact: please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Centering Prayer is a form of praying that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself.  This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer (whether verbal, discursive or affective): rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on other kinds of prayer.  Centering Prayer complements the other forms of prayer; it is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.  It is a movement which leads into silence where the Beloved and the Lover dwell as One.  The desire for God is God's gift to us; it is the movement of the Holy Spirit leading into deeper communion with the Father and the Son.

The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the indwelling Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ.  The effects of Centering Prayer are ecclesial, as the prayer tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.

Centering Prayer is also inspired by the writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage including John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton.  The 14th century anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing  also recommended this form of prayer, the choosing of a simple word to symbolise your desire for God.  (see Chapters 7 and 8 of The Cloud)

Centering prayer was formulated in its present form in the 1970s by three Trappist monks: Fr William Menninger, Fr Basil Pennington, and Abbot Thomas Keating at St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts (USA).   There are more than 40,000 people who practice Centering Prayer in more than 40 countries. 
Fr Basil Pennington OCSO  Fr Thomas Keating OCSO  Fr William Menninger OCSO
Centering Prayer is a form of Christian Prayer and is not a form of Zen meditation as is sometimes alledged.  Zen meditation developed independently as a part of Buddhism in Japan about five centuries later.

Centering prayer is not a technique but a way of cultivating a relationship with God.  It is a way of resting in God, of being consciously aware of focusing only on God.  It is a way of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God's presence and action within.  . It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effect; that is, it builds communities of faith and bonds the members together in charity. (courtesy of Contemplative Outreach UK).

Contact us

For further information about Centering Prayer Programmes in Australia, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  



In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.